Reducing accounts receivable (AR) days is a pressing issue for medical office managers and billing staff everywhere, and for good reason. When AR days are high, maintaining healthy cash flow is nearly impossible. If your medical practice’s AR days are high, the time to do something about it is right now! The sooner you get this issue under control, the sooner you can improve your practice’s bottom line and focus on providing quality patient care. In this article, we’ll give you actionable tips you can put into practice today to reduce your AR days.
Examine Your Current AR Situation
The first step in reducing your AR days is understanding where your practice currently stands. How long does it take on average for patients to pay their bills? How long do your payer invoices remain unpaid? Answering these questions will give you a baseline to work from as you develop your AR strategy.
After you have gathered information about your facility’s AR situation, you can set a goal for reducing your AR days. A reasonable goal to start with is to decrease it by 30%. This may seem daunting, but it is achievable with the right plan in place!
Double Check Bills Before Submitting
One of the most common causes of denied claims, delayed payments, and high AR days is incorrect billing. When rushing to get claims out the door, it’s easy to make mistakes. And if you bill incorrectly, you’ll have to resubmit the claim, delaying payment by days (or even weeks). That’s why it’s essential to take a few extra minutes to double check each bill before you submit it. It may seem like an imposition at first, but taking this extra step will save you a lot of time and headaches.
Send Out Patient Bills Promptly
Another way to reduce your AR days is to send out patient bills promptly. Ideally, you should send the bill out on the date of service. But if that’s not possible, aim to send the bill within a week of the patient visit. The longer you wait to send a statement, the more likely the patient will forget about it or have trouble finding the money to pay. By sending bills promptly, you’ll increase your chances of getting paid quickly.
Inform Patients of Payment Expectations Upfront
In addition to sending bills promptly, it’s also crucial to inform patients of payment expectations upfront. When scheduling appointments, let patients know how much they’ll be expected to pay, what forms of payment you accept, and how long after the date of service they have to submit payment. If payment is required upfront, let patients know that too. This will help prevent any confusion or surprises down the road.
Note: Include this information on your practice’s website and patient statements.
Implement Smart Claim Tracking Techniques
Identifying problems early can speed up claim resolution. So to get paid quickly, you need to be proactive about claim tracking. By implementing technology-based claim tracking techniques, you can stay on top of outstanding claims and ensure they’re being processed in a timely manner. Some payers have internal claims tracking tools specifically for providers. You can leverage these provider sites/tools to track the status of your claims and identify any bottlenecks in the system.
Claims tracking software is also available to practices. It automates claims administration and tracking to save you time and reduce AR days.
Expand Patient Payment Options
In today’s digital world, patients expect to have multiple payment options. If your medical practice only accepts one or two forms of payment, you’re likely losing out on potential revenue. To make it easy for patients to pay and reduce your AR days, offer as many forms of payment as possible. In addition to traditional methods like cash and checks, you should also accept credit and debit cards and alternative payment options like Apple Pay, CareCredit, and PayPal.
Collect Payments Upfront When Possible
Collect patient payments upfront whenever possible. Copayments are typically due at the time of service, so be sure to collect these payments before patients leave your office. But that’s not all you can collect. Contrary to what some believe, you can also collect deductibles upfront.
Call patients a few days before their appointment to inform them of their expected out-of-pocket costs and when they need to be paid (before leaving the office). Collecting payments upfront will reduce the amount of money you have to recover down the line. It takes anywhere from 30 to 60 days to receive payments from payers, so the sooner you can collect from patients, the better.
Stay Abreast of Billing and Coding Regulations and Updates
Minimizing claim denials is imperative if you want to shorten your AR days. But how can you do that if you’re not abiding by the latest billing and coding guidelines and regulations? By keeping up with recent billing and coding news, you can avoid errors that could delay payment. Stay informed by reading medical coding publications, subscribing to email newsletters, and attending webinars and conferences. The American College of Physicians website resources page for coding is an excellent place to start. You can also take advantage of free resources offered by Medicare and Medicaid.
Outsource Your Accounts Receivable
If you’re struggling to keep up with outstanding payments, it may be time to outsource that function to a medical AR firm. This is a big decision, but it could pay off in the long run. When you outsource your AR, you’ll have more time to focus on other aspects of your medical practice. In addition, you’ll likely see a decrease in your AR days and an increase in cash flow. But you’ll only experience these benefits if you choose the right AR firm to take over.
Choosing the Right Medical AR Vendor for Your Practice
When choosing a medical AR vendor, there are several things you should keep in mind. First, look for a company that uses state-of-the-art technology to send and manage claims and facilitate the insurance recovery and patient collection processes. In addition, you should look for a company with a proven track record of success.
If you need a bonafide expert in healthcare revenue cycle management, DataSearch is a fantastic choice. We are a premier AR and collections vendor for healthcare facilities across the U.S. We’ve been providing healthcare revenue cycle services for nearly 5 decades. Over that time, we’ve recovered more than $1 billion in medical claims. So, we know our stuff. Entrusting us with your medical office’s AR functions will result in the following benefits:
- Quicker payment resolution.
- More money to go around.
- Improved relationships with patients.
- A better understanding of your accounts receivable process.
As you’ve gathered from this article, there are several things you can do to reduce your AR days. By following the tips outlined in this article, you can take control of your accounts receivable and put your financial issues in the past. And when you’re ready to outsource your AR, DataSearch is here to help. Our innovative automation technology, industry know-how, and stellar reputation make us a worthwhile choice for any healthcare firm. Contact us today to learn more.